Was it coincidence that geology offered a revolutionary way of looking at the earth at the same time that British and French societies were agitating for political reform? Both early nineteenth-century upheavals were stirred, as Martin Rudwick shows, by the burgeoning press. In Britain the growing network of railways carried newspapers (fed by the electric telegraph), scientific periodicals and books the length of the land. The new reading public showed a remarkable appetite for science.
Geology was on the rise. The lively Geological Society of London, founded in 1807, was given a royal charter by George IV in 1825. Five years later, before the Reform Act of 1832 widened the electoral franchise, the barrister-turned-geologist Charles Lyell made a bestseller out of his Principles of Geology.